(New York, NY) — PEN America today welcomed news that the Ugandan High Court released writer and activist Dr. Stella Nyanzi, ruling in her favor to overturn her conviction on “cyber harassment” charges for a poem she wrote about President Yoweri Museveni on the grounds of lack of jurisdiction and a fair trial. The following statement is from Karin Deutsch Karlekar, director of Free Expression at Risk Programs at PEN America: 

“Dr. Stella Nyanzi’s successful appeal of her conviction and release from prison is long overdue, but a welcome decision and a victory for free expression. In the face of job loss, imprisonment, and dangerous conditions in custody, Dr. Nyanzi stuck to her conviction that her right to express herself freely and to have a fair trial should be upheld. Her fearless commitment to continuing to write, even from behind bars, is a reminder that even prison cannot silence a voice that is determined to speak truth to power. We celebrate Dr. Nyanzi’s release and call for the Ugandan government to allow her to resume her career and writings unfettered by the threat of legal action.”

In January, Dr. Nyanzi was honored with the 2020 Oxfam Novib/PEN International Award for Freedom of Expression. For more information about Dr. Nyanzi’s case, click here.


PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

CONTACT: Gina Chung, Communications Manager, [email protected], +1 201 952 6484